Before I started writing this column, I came across the terms “tomato can” and “cream puff” from the many boxing articles I read.
Based on my readings and research, tomato refers to a weak or so-so boxer because a tomato can easily be knocked down with a shove. Try it for yourself! Yet I wonder what makes tomato cans special compared to cans packing sardines, peas, preserved fruits and what have you. Does it sound less insulting if you call a weak boxer a sardine can?
On the other hand, a fighter who is “soft” or easy to beat is also called a cream puff because a cream puff is also soft. The last boxer I know who was recently labeled a cream puff was Andre Berto (30-4 with 23 knockouts), the 49th boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. (49-0 with 26 KOs) defeated.
Whatever the origins of the two derogatory terms for so-so boxers, Timothy Bradley Jr. is in no way a cream puff or a tomato can making him a very worthy opponent for Manny Pacquiao (57-6-2 with 38 knockouts) when they clash for the third time on April 12 in Las Vegas.
Since Bradley is no tomato can or cream puff, his third bout with Pacquiao is better than Mayweather-Berto.
The first two bouts between Pacquiao and Bradley were not lopsided beatings favoring either fighter. In fact, the first two contests going the distance and the score (officially) at one bout each, a third bout should really be in order.
But what makes Pacquiao-Bradley 3 more interesting than Mayweather-Berto is Bradley looks like he has recovered after Pacquiao handed him the first loss in his career on April 2012 or their second meeting.
Bradley clearly lost the second bout and he looked puzzled in the latter part of the fight when he resorted to landing just one knockout punch to win. The American boxer’s awkwardness that somehow baffled Pacquiao in their first fight was somehow gone at the latter part of their second fight, which assured the Filipino a decision win.
One proof Bradley has recovered is his beating Brandon Rios (33-4-1 with 24 KOs) on November 7, 2015, becoming the first fighter to stop the Mexican-American. In the Rios fight, Bradley also had a new trainer in Teddy Atlas, who is by no means a so-so trainer.
Atlas was one of the original members in the camp of an amateur Mike Tyson but was forced to leave Tyson’s camp after he pointed a gun at the boxer after Tyson sexually harassed his female relative. Atlas is a student of legendary trainer Cus D’Amato.
So on fight night, never expect Pacquiao to have a picnic when he takes on Bradley. And there’s the catch that should make Filipinos proud—at least Pacquiao is not taking on a fading fighter like Berto whose diminished skills assured Mayweather his 49th win in 49 bouts.
And if the version of Bradley that beat Rios shows up on fight night against Pacquiao, it is possible the Filipino can be beaten.
Although Bradley is no knockout puncher and his 33-1-1 with 13 KOs record clearly shows that, his ability to take punishment is uncanny. Take for instance his fight against Ruslan Provodnikov (25-4 with 18 KOs) where he traded leather with the Russian yet managed to win the fight standing up despite getting knocked down twice.
And it is foolish to discount Bradley’s skills because he clearly beat Juan Manuel Marquez (56-7-1 with 40 KOs) on October 2013, or after the Mexican beat Pacquiao on December 2012 via a sixth-round knockout.
There are some boxing observers and writers who think Pacquiao should have taken a tougher opponent. These people have a point but I don’t think Pacquiao should be made a prospective stepping-stone by up-and-coming fighters like Keith Thurman (26-0 with 22 KOs) or Kell Brook (35-0 with 24 KOs), among others.
Pacquiao-Bradley 3 could generate more than the 400,000 pay-per-view buys of Mayweather-Berto because at the very least, the Filipino is not taking on a cream puff or tomato can. Or sardine can.